One might think that, after eons of experience with delivering babies, society would have at last arrived at some consensus about what most births cost. Sadly, a new study says such is clearly not the case, at least for hospitals in California.

What's worse, the yawning chasm between the cost of a birth from one hospital to another appears to be mostly a random phenomenon not tied to actual costs.

This news comes from researchers with the University of California at San Francisco. The project had several funders, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Institutes of health and UCSF. Data collected came from all privately insured patients admitted to California hospitals for uncomplicated births in 2011. Data from more than 100,000 births was analyzed.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.